After 22 matches, the Sounders nearly pulled together their first-choice team together for last week’s 1-0 win over Portland. Now, USA Soccer has stepped in again and called midfielders Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans and forward Eddie Johnson to the U.S. Men’s National Team for two September qualifer games for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Though he won’t say so, this has to be driving head coach Sigi Schmid nuts. The Sounders are finally back in the playoff race, only to have their roster stripped again.
The players will join the national team following Seattle’s match in Columbus Saturday and will miss contests against Chivas USA Sept. 4 and the Chicago Fire Sept. 7.
The National Team visits Costa Rica Sept. 6 with the kickoff at 7 p.m. PT in the national capital of San Jose. The team then hosts Mexico Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. PT at Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH.
Dempsey, 30, who made his first home start last week against the Timbers, is captain of USMNT. Dempsey’s next cap will be his 100th. He will become the 14th player in team history to reach the century mark.
Dempsey ranks second all-time with 35 goals for USMNT, and ninth with 12 assists. He has scored five goals in eight starts for the U.S. in 2013, and has led the team in goals the past two years. Dempsey is tied with Landon Donovan for the most goals (12) for the USMNT in cup qualifying.
Evans, 27, has 13 caps and one goal for the U.S. He has earned seven caps in 2013, and scored the latest game-winner in USMNT qualifying history at Jamaica June 7.
Johnson, 29, has 57 caps and 18 goals, including two goals and one assist in three Gold Cup games in July. Johnson leads all USMNT players with 13 caps in 2013, and his 11 goals in qualifying ranks third all-time for the U.S.
USMNT is in first place in the final round of qualifying, collecting 13 points from six matches. The top three teams in the hexagonal automatically advance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while the fourth-place finisher will contest a two-game playoff against Oceania region winner New Zealand.
USMNT has record-setting 12-match winning streak that began June 2 with a 4-3 victory against then second-ranked Germany in the Centennial Celebration Match and includes three wins in World Cup qualifying and six straight victories en route to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship.
The Sounders play the Columbus Crew Saturday at 4:30 p.m. PT.